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* Chethub. 69 b, line 18 from bottom
Moed K. 10 b, first line
and application to Jewish minds, of the teaching of our Lord could be conceived than that which follows. For, the love of Christ goes deeper than the condescension of receiving a child, utterly un-Pharisaic and un-Rabbinic as this is. To have regard to the weaknesses of such a child—to its mental and moral ignorance and folly, to adapt ourselves to it, to restrain our fuller knowledge and forego our felt liberty, so as not to offend'-not to give occasion for stumbling to one of these little ones,' that so through our knowledge the weak brother for whom Christ died should not perish: this is a lesson which reaches even deeper than the question, what is the condition of entrance into the Kingdom, or what service constitutes real greatness in it. A man may enter into the Kingdom and do service -yet, if in so doing he disregard the law of love to the little ones, far better his work should be abruptly cut short; better, one of those large millstones, turned by an ass, were hung about his neck and he cast into the sea! We pause to note, once more, the Judaic, and, therefore, evidential, setting of the Evangelic narrative. The Talmud also speaks of two kinds of millstones—the one turned by hand (877 D'07), referred to in St. Luke xvii. 35; the other turned by an ass (uúros óvirós), just as the Talmud speaks of the ass of the millstone' ('77 'on). Similarly, the figure about a mill
stone hung round the neck occurs also in the Talmud-although Kidd. 29.1; there as figurative of almost insuperable difficulties. Again, the
expression, 'it were better for him,' is a well-known Rabbinic expresa Vajjikra sion (Mutav hajah lo). Lastly, according to St. Jerome, the punish
ment which seems alluded to in the words of Christ, and which we know to have been inflicted by Augustus, was actually practised by the Romans in Galilee on some of the leaders of the insurrection under Judas of Galilee.
And yet greater guilt would only too surely be incurred! Woe unto the world! Occasions of stumbling and offence will surely come, but woe to the man through whom such havoc was wrought. What then is the alternative? If it be a question as between offence and some part of ourselves, a limb or member, however useful—the hand, the foot, the eye-then let it rather be severed from the body, however painful, or however seemingly great the loss. It cannot be so great as that of the whole being in the eternal fire of Gehenna, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Be
10 and 9 from bottom
i St. Mark ix. 44, the last clause of ver. 45, and ver. 46, seem to be spurious. But ver. 48, as well as the expression · fire that
never shall be quenched,' and in St. Matthew, 'everlasting fire,' are on all hands admitted to be genuine. The question of
'EVERY ONE SHALL BE SALTED FOR THE FIRE.'
it hand, foot, or eye-practice, pursuit, or research-which consciously leads us to occasions of stumbling, it must be resolutely put aside in view of the incomparably greater loss of eternal remorse and anguish.
Here St. Mark abruptly breaks off with a sentence in which the Saviour makes general application. But the narrative is further continued by St. Matthew. The words are so remarkable, so brief, we had almost said truncated, as to require special consideration. It seems to us that, turning from this thought, that even members which are intended for useful service may, in certain circumstances, have to be cut off to avoid the greatest loss, the Lord gave to His disciples this as the final summary and explanation of all: “For every one shall be salted for the fire'l-or, as a very early gloss, which has strangely crept into the text, paraphrased and explained it, ‘Every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.' No one is fit for the sacrificial fire, no one can be, or offer anything as a sacrifice, unless it have been first, according to the Levitical Law, covered with salt, symbolic of the incorruptible. "Salt is good; but if the salt,' with which the spiritual sacrifice is to be salted for the fire, have lost its savour, wherewith will ye season it ?' Hence, ‘have salt in yourselves,' but do not let that salt be corrupted by making it an occasion of offence to others, or among yourselves, as in the dispute by the way, or in the disposition of mind that led to it, or in forbidding others to work who follow not with you, but be at peace among yourselves.
To this explanation of the words of Christ it may, perhaps, be added that, from their form, they must have conveyed a special meaning to the disciples. It was a well-known law, that every sacrifice burned on the Altar must be salted with salt. Indeed, according to • Lev. ii. 13 the Talmud, not only every such offering, but even the wood with which the sacrificial fire was kindled, was sprinkled with salt. Salt Menach. symbolised to the Jews of that time the incorruptible and the higher. Thus, the soul was compared to the salt, and it was said concerning the dead : "Shake off the salt, and throw the flesh to the dogs.'c • Nidd. 31 a The Bible was compared to salt; so was acuteness of intellect.d a Kidd. 29 Lastly, the question: "If the salt have lost its savour, wherewith will ye season it ?' seems to have been proverbial, and occurs in
in a later part.
'eternal punishment,' from the standpoint of Jewish theology, will be treated
The rendering "Salted for the fire,' viz., as a sacrifice, has been adopted by other critics.
2 We can readily understand how that clause, which was one of the most ancient explanations, perhaps a marginal gloss on the text · Everyone shall be salted for the fire,' crept into the text when its meaning was no longer understood.
a Bechor, 86, lines 14
D Chag. 12
exactly the same words in the Talmud, apparently to denote a thing that is impossible.& 1
Most thoroughly anti-Pharisaic and anti-Rabbinic as all this was, and 13 from what St. Matthew further reports leads still farther in the same
direction. We seem to see Jesus still holding this child, and, with evident reference to the Jewish contempt for that which is small, point to him and apply, in quite other manner than they had ever heard, the Rabbinic teaching about the Angels. In the Jewish view, only the chiefest of the Angels were before the Face of God within the curtained Veil, or Pargod, while the others, ranged in different classes, stood outside and awaited His behest. The distinction which the former enjoyed was always to behold His Face, and to hear and know directly the Divine counsels and commands. This distinction was, therefore, one of knowledge; Christ taught that it was one of love. Not the more exalted in knowledge, and merit, or worth, but the simpler, the more unconscious of self, the more receptive and clinging—the nearer to God. Look up from earth to heaven; those representative, it may be, guardian, Angels nearest to God, are not those of deepest knowledge of God's counsel and commands, but those of simple, humble grace and faith—and so learn, not only not to despise one of these little ones, but who is truly greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven !
Viewed in this light, there is nothing incongruous in the transition: “For the Son of Man is come to save that which was lost.' This, His greatest condescension when He became the Babe of Bethlehem, is also His greatest exaltation. He Who is nearest the Father, and, in the most special and unique sense, always beholds His Face, is He that became a Child, and, as the Son of Man, stoops lowest, to save that which was lost. The words are, indeed, regarded as spurious by most critics, because certain leading manuscripts omit them, and they are supposed to have been imported from St. Luke xix. 10. But such a transference from a context wholly unconnected with this section : seems unaccountable, while, on the other hand, the verse in question forms, not only an apt, but almost necessary, transition to the Parable of the Lost Sheep. It seems, therefore, difficult to eliminate it without also striking out
? See the Appendix on. Angelology and salt, when it becomes ill-savouring, with Demonology. what shall it be seasoned ?' The passage 3 Except that the history of Zacchæus, occurs in a very curious Haggadah, and in which the words occur, is really an apthe objection that salt would not become plication to real life of the Parable of the ill-savouring, would not apply to the Lost Sheep. proverb in the form given it by Christ.
the -מילחא כי סרי' במאי מלחי לה
ON FORGIVENESS TO A 'BROTHER.'
a St. Luke xv. 3-7
that Parable; and yet it fits most beautifully into the whole context. Suffice it for the present to note this. The Parable itself is more fully repeated in another connection, in which it will be more convenient to consider it.
Yet a further depth of Christian love remained to be shown, which, all self-forgetful, sought not its own but the things of others. This also bore on the circumstances of the time, and the dispute between the disciples, but went far beyond it, and set forth eternal principles. Hitherto it had been a question of not seeking self, nor minding great things, but, Christ-like and God-like, to condescend to the little ones. What if actual wrong had been done, and just offence given, by a brother'? In such case, also, the principle of the Kingdom-which, negatively, is that of self-forgetfulness, positively, that of service of love-would first seek the good of the offending brother. We mark, here, the contrast to Rabbinism, which directs that the first overtures must be made by the offender, not the offended ; 6 and even prescribes this to be done in presence of Yoma viii. numerous witnesses, and, if needful, repeated three times. As re- Yoma gards the duty of showing to a brother his fault, and the delicate tenderness of doing this in private, so as not to put him to shame, Rabbinism speaks the same as the Master of Nazareth.d In fact, according to Jewish criminal law, punishment could not be inflicted Tamià 28 a unless the offender (even the woman suspected of adultery) had previously been warned before witnesses. Yet, in practice, matters were very different; and neither could those be found who would take reproof, nor yet such as were worthy to administer it.e
Quite other was it in the Kingdom of Christ, where the theory was left undefined, but the practice clearly marked. Here, by loving dealing to convince of his wrong him who had done it, was not humiliation nor loss of dignity or of right, but real gain : the gain of our brother to us, and eventually to Christ Himself. But even if this should fail, the offended must not desist from his service of love, but conjoin in it others with himself to give weight and authority to his remonstrances, as not being the outcome of personal feeling or prejudice-perhaps, also, to be witnesses before the Divine tribunal. If this failed, a final appeal should be made on the part of the Church as a whole, which, of course, could only be done through her representatives and rulers, to whom Divine authority had been committed. And if that were rejected, the offer of love would, as always in the Gospel, pass into danger of judgment. Not, indeed, that such was to be executed by man, but that such an offender, after the first and
d Shabb, 119 b;
Arach. 16 6
e Arach. u. S. St. Matt. xviii. 19
BOOK second admonition, was to be rejected. He was to be treated as was
IV the custom in regard to a heathen or a publican-not persecuted, Titus ii, 10 despised, or avoided, but not received in Church-fellowship (a
heathen), nor admitted to close familiar intercourse (a publican). And this, as we understand it, marks out the mode of what is called Church discipline in general, and specifically as regards wrong done to a brother. Discipline so exercised (which may God restore to us) has the highest Divine sanction, and the most earnest reality attaches to it. For, in virtue of the authority which Christ had committed to the Church in the persons of her rulers and representatives,' what they bound or loosed—declared obligatory or non-obligatory—was ratified in heaven. Nor was this to be wondered at. The Incarnation of Christ was the link which bound earth to heaven; through it whatever was agreed upon in the fellowship of Christ, as that which was to be asked, would be done for them of His Father which was in heaven. Thus, the power of the Church reached up to heaven through the power of prayer in His Name Who made God our Father. And so, beyond the exercise of discipline and authority, there was the omnipotence of prayer-'if two of you shall agree ... as touching anything it shall be done for them'-and, with it, the infinite possibility of a higher service of love. For, in the smallest gathering in the Name of Christ, His Presence would be, and with it the certainty of nearness to, and acceptance with, God.
It is bitterly disappointing that, after such teaching, even a Peter could-either immediately afterwards, or perhaps after he had had time to think it over, and apply it—come to the Master with the question, how often he was to forgive an offending brother, imagining that he had more than satisfied the new requirements, if he extended it to seven times. Such traits show better than elaborate discussions the need of the mission and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. And yet there is something touching in the simplicity and honesty with which Peter goes to the Master, with such a misapprehension of His
| It is both curious and interesting to have been the delegates of the Church, find that the question, whether the but must be those of God. (See the Priests exercised their functions as the essay by Delitzsch in the Zeitschr. für sent of God’or the sent of the congre- Luther. Theol. for 1854, pp. 446–449.) gation'-that is, held their commission 2 The Mishnah (Ab. iii. 2), and the directly from God, or only as being the Talmud (Ber. 6 a), infer from Mal. iii. representatives of the people, is discussed 16, that, when two are together and already in the Talmud (Yoma 18 b &c. ; occupy themselves with the Law, the Nedar. 35 b). The Talmud replies that, Shechinah is between them. Similarly, as it is impossible to delegate what one it is argued from Lament. iii. 28, and does not possess, and since the laity might Exod. xx. 21, that if even one alone is enneither offer sacrifices nor do any like gaged in such pursuits, God is with him service, the Priests could not possibly and will bless him.
e St. Matt. xviii. 19, 20